Tag Archives: Hilton Head Island

A decision is made: Mr. Angry Man stays …

There was some brief internal debate about a public airing of the rant in the first paragraph.

One argument favored it be kept intact. The other rationale urged its removal. (As regular observers may know, there are some topics that you will never read. Those are indeed cut out, to be seen only by Ellen and Reid and me.)

In this case, however, the decision was made to keep the opening pissy mood narrative. 

In large part letters aren’t – or shouldn’t be – happy-happy all the time. That’s not how life works. It would be disingenuous to only write about the good, the positive or the uplifting while other facets of my life remain in hiding.

The kids deserve to see the broader picture that is my reality. There are frustrations and there are disappointments and there are sad doings. And since I tend to wear things on my sleeve (as many writers do), there’s no reason you shouldn’t read about Mr. Angry Man, too.

December 19, 2016

Ellen/Reid: I woke up this morning Mr. Angry Man. I dunno, but things just seem to be getting out of hand on so many fronts I don’t know where to start. I’m tired of a house that hasn’t sold. I’m tired of no people even looking. I’m tired of squirreling away newspapers as packing material when there’s nothing to pack. I’m no slob by any means, but I’m tired of keeping up appearances when there are no visitors to take notice of a nice place. I’m tired of cooking for one with no one in my life let alone no one even interested in being in my life (there is the reality I won’t be here long term). I’m tired of a beautiful jet-black Harley spinning its wheels in the garage with no takers to appreciate it. It’s all just kind of mounted up in the past few weeks and the end game is it landed me in a frustrated, pissy mood.

But enough with the whine-fest. That’s now past. The recent bright spot was about 20 people over here Saturday night for a really fun soiree. Rather than cook (I did bake bread and warm up a delicious spiral ham), my friends all brought appetizers and wine/beer and we partied on from there. I really enjoy hosting this particular group of friends.


My friends Sondra and Jody emceed the Yankee Gift Swap in my lower living room. If the intent was to pawn off stuff folks didn’t want, it was mission accomplished.

Most guests, but not all, were golfers and they all get along well and they like being around each other. Sondra and Jody orchestrated a Yankee Gift Swap which was hilarious. I ended up with a goofy golf-themed bottle opener but it could’ve been far worse: some partier ended up with a peanut butter jar of nuts and bolts that was my contribution to the gift pile.

Reid, you’ll read this well after I see you later this week. The route is planned and computes to about a 10 hour drive. Miss Emma and I will shove off about 5 a.m. or so. When that’s done, it’s back up the way to Hilton Head the 26th through the 31st. Sondra and Jody and our friend Lynn will arrive later in the week owing to their job duties. That’ll give me and Emma a couple of days to fish new waters, maybe evening going offshore a bit to a spot called the Rock Pile. It’s roughly the midway point between Hilton Head Island and Tybee Island, Georgia. It’s where old seafaring ships dumped ballast before they sailed into the harbor of Savannah. My buddies, Dave Hemminger, Bob Furstenau and Dave Dahlquist have fished there with great success. The accumulated stones are home to big, thick bull reds and while it would be an adventurous 3-4 mile paddle, the waters aren’t that deep and might be worth the effort if the tides and weather are right (separately on Saturday night, Sondra and Jody gave me an emergency kit to keep in a dry bag on Miss Emma). I’ve never used the Glympse app so you can track me on the seas but I’ll do that on these coming salt water forays for certain. Ellen, be sure to send me Christmas pictures of the girls. That’s a real bright spot for their Papa. Also, give me some dates to come up for a visit so I can begin to acclimate myself to the frigidness. Man, the St. Paul and Chicago temps have just been horrid.

My appeal to Social Security is in the works although there’s no message as to whether or not they’ll summarily dismiss it or grant me an audience with a decision maker. I’ll keep you posted one way or another.

There’s a bunch of writing to do this morning so I’d better put my pouting on hold and get on with things. Reid, I’ll also head to the bookstore to see if they stock the titles you gave me. Ellen, tell Tim the redfish hat is very much appreciated. It’ll make the trip to Florida and South Carolina. I won’t be an official Southern redneck. I’ll just look like one.

Love, Dad


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All the news that’s fit to print …

News – the creation of it or my reaction to it – seems to be a common thread in last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

I like the very notion of being involved in news. It’s fun, challenging, is a creative outlet of sorts and, given my father’s fondness for it (including the Omaha Sun Newspapers), there is some history of family involvement in the newspaper business. I’m glad this apple didn’t fall too far from my father’s tree.

March 28, 2016

Ellen/Reid: For some reason I was moping here on the couch last week when out of the blue comes this opportunity to be the editor of a small town paper. Talk about going from the very low to the very high. The very thought of it is just so energizing and it has the potential to turn my retirement plans – such as they were – 180 degrees. The Mint Hill Times is undergoing a re-birth since its acquisition by some folks who have publishing experience but no real newspaper experience in the news sense. That’s what I can bring to the table. I just love the idea of being a news guy again. It would rip a page out of your late grandfather’s career when one of his first news jobs after World War II was to work for the Sundance Times and Crook County News up in Wyoming. My initial meeting was Friday with one of the co-owners, a woman who was the first to hear my ‘this is how news ought to work …’ diatribe. As we wrapped up our lunch at The Hill, a local bar in Mint Hill, I got up from the table and walked outside to a street corner to cover, and file, my first story for the paper, a Good Friday gathering of several hundred worshippers. She set up a Saturday morning meeting with her husband and the other owners over coffee at a local McDonalds to talk about editorial philosophy. It went fine.

What’s up in the air is how much time I can devote to this endeavor; although we talked only about part time work, by necessity it would really be full time at first and who-knows-what later. Most small papers like The Times are highly dependent on advertising to make things click and they are just getting up to speed. A lot of the news would be soft features. No real hard news to speak of but mostly goings on in town. That’s the nature of the beast. They have a group of six free lancers, not counting my students, that whoever ends up being the editor would have to ride herd over. News organization is a big deal for them since they have no real process in place. I owe them an outline of how I’d run the virtual  ‘newsroom’ since they have no physical office as of yet. We’ll continue to work through things this week. But if nothing else I’ll be a writer and that’s fine, too. My students aren’t stepping up quite like I expected them to but I’ll goad them over that hurdle.

My plans this week were to head to Charleston tomorrow for another day trip of fishing but that’s on hold now in view of the newspaper discussion.


Miss Emma and I may have missed a saltwater excursion last week, but we’ll make up for it this Wednesday, April 6 when we traipse to Bowens Island for a day of angling for reds and specks.

About 20 folks from my golf Meetup group will head to a funky concert venue, The Fillmore, this Friday night for a tribute show to the Eagles. The place will be absolutely jam packed and I’ve snagged about 30 free tickets. What the place gives up in terms of ticket prices they make up for in $10 Continue reading

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Do bad things happen in more than threes? …

They say bad things happen in threes but after these past few weeks it seems entirely possible that they occur in bunches of four or more.

But no one was hurt in the most serious of the instances and the true cost was only money. As Ellen and Reid found out in last week’s letter, it’s how you react to what’s on your plate that really matters.


November 22, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Well, it’s been one hell of a last 30 days; job loss, phone dunked in the saltwater near Charleston, and then the crash.

Waiting today to hear from the appraiser but the policeman at the scene saw the Camry’s front end and said “That looks like it’s totaled.” But we shall see. At least no one was hurt. The officer called it a ‘garden variety’ crash at a site – where two lanes of traffic join into two lanes from opposite directions on Tyvola onto I-77 northbound. The poor Hispanic woman was at a dead stop in the right hand lane as I had my eye on traffic merging from my left. When I began to speed up, bam, there she was. Of course, having no phone was a real problem since she spoke little or no English. My first words to her were “Are you okay?” and then she returned to sobbing to whomever she was talking to on the phone.

In the eyes of the insurer, my Camry was totaled. But the silver lining is that no one was hurt. I'll spend sufficient cash for a new car but as they say, it's only money.

In the eyes of the insurer, my Camry was totaled. But the silver lining is that no one was hurt. I’ll spend sufficient cash for a new car but as they say, it’s only money.

She hadn’t called 911 yet. Really, not having a phone was the most maddening part, and Verizon has been almost no help in helping me get a new one. What really frosted me the day before was that the replacement phone from the insurance company was ‘reconditioned’ – so, I’d been paying $10 a month on insurance for a ‘reconditioned’ phone whose battery wouldn’t hold a charge. I almost went nuclear at the Verizon store when they wouldn’t replace it on the spot and that I’d have to work through the insurance company. What a total rip off. The ‘new’ phone ostensibly arrives sometime today. Once it does, the Verizon manager said she’d help me set it up.

The police were nice enough to let me retrieve a few valuables – notably my golf clubs – and gave me a courtesy ride home. For the first time, and hopefully the last, I got to sit in the rear seat of a cruiser surrounded by iron bars. The police woman and I had a nice Continue reading


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“All we have to fear …” and assurance the world won’t end

A big part of parenting is assurance to your children, beginning at young ages, that things will be okay; there are no monsters under the bed, you’ll find friends in your new school, keep your head on straight and your wits about you in your new job.

As you know, your assurances continue into their adulthood. The horrific events in Paris were yet another time for parenting to calm the waters and lend your older perspective to an uneven, uncertain world. The monsters have changed from the harmless childhood variety to the chilling persona of pure evil.

Our answers become a little more complex but are assurance nonetheless. Our children may be older now but the truism for their parents is that parenting never stops.


November 17, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, as to your question ‘… is the world going to end?’ given the horrific Paris massacre, my answer tilts toward ‘no.’ The murderous ISIS thugs might be propagating a new generation of insanity but the world has been down this road before. I think it’s a question each generation asks itself when the world seems headed toward certain ruin: ‘What is going to happen to us?’ Your grandparents in the 1940s asked it of the Nazis. In the 1950s we wondered if the hair-trigger nuclear standoff with the Soviets would be the end of us. The solution has been a world that stands united rather than divided and arrives at a strategy to end the evil. I suspect that is what will happen this time around but likely not before more pain is inflicted. What ISIS is successful at is promoting fear. Granted, there aren’t many direct parallels between times long ago and now, but President Roosevelt told Americans at the onset of World War II that the only thing we had to fear “was fear itself.” We have to have calmer, sensible heads come to the head of the table. It’s interesting to me that the focal point of this strife, this woe, touches on religion. How is it that religion excuses such killing in the name of its God? The temptation, as the late Air Force General Curtis LeMay promoted, was to nuclear bomb our enemies “back to the Stone Age.” No doubt we’ll have to match ISIS force with force – but not to their level of brutality – yet my uneducated guess is the strategy has to be much broader at several different levels; diplomacy, a consistent unity between nations, a smack down of the caliphate and its rogue mullahs by moderate Muslims, etc. It will take time, but we can’t just use air power or boots on the ground. My take is that the Syrian refugee situation is a good chance for us to show the rest of the Muslim world Continue reading


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There’s always Hilton Head, kiddo. There’s always Hilton Head …

This letter was literally old news not 36 hours after it was mailed, overtaken by mid-week events that turned my life maybe not upside down but at least sideways. Depending on one’s perspective on the specter of unfortunate news, it either dims the lights or turns the bulbs up bright.

I prefer the latter over the former. To be otherwise doesn’t really doesn’t do anyone much good. You either fall on your butt and stay down or stand on your two feet and move forward. I’ll take the latter over the former in that case, too.


October 26, 2015

Ellen/Reid: At last the guest bath is done. Or at least 98% of it is done. The towel racks and other hooks are minor annoyances but the installation will be done soon enough. It should be all done within the next 24 hours. It’s somewhat amazing that it came together as quickly as it did; the contractor, Brian, is really good and I just fell between the cracks, in a good way, in his work schedule.

Sure, this may be a man's take on a guest bath but what the hell. It beats what was there.

Sure, this may be a man’s take on a guest bath but what the hell. It beats what was there.

The lighting gave me some concern since I wasn’t sure how big the hole in the drywall was behind the crappy old fixture. But the hole was small, and I could finagle a junction box in there so there wasn’t as much drywall work as anticipated. The wiring was cinchy. The tile worked out well and the coloration of things seems to these sad eyes to be relatively coordinated. Ellen, I’m not hep on what’s ‘in’ in terms of towels and bath mats and stuff like that so you’ll need to continue to guide me down that primrose lane. I’ll take a debut shower in it later tonight.

This was the outdated ugliness that should have been gutted years ago.

This was the outdated ugliness that should have been gutted years ago.

The downside is there is dust everywhere on everything in every room. Such are the wages of home renovation. I’ve yet to sit down to compute the total tab but the guessing is about $2,700.

Ellen, now I’ll turn the attention to the horrid first floor, brown-painted bathroom disaster. It won’t be much other than a touch up of paint and some new faucets and lighting fixtures so it shouldn’t be overly problematic. But I made grand pontifications, too, about the guest bath upstairs and we know how that turned out. Cha-ching.

Another teenager was killed this weekend in a speeding related accident a couple of blocks away from here. I drove by this morning and the crash site is literally directly across the road from another fatal teen wreck almost 10 years ago – that one was loud enough for me to hear Continue reading

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Where’s the beef?

The holidays are nearing, and, mercifully, what shopping there was to do is done. As letters go, this is akin to Clara in the old commercial: “Where’s the beef?”


December 8, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Holiday shopping for you guys feels like a mishmash of bland stuff; cash for your coat, Reid, and pre-natal yoga lessons you’re already using, Ellen. I’ve got a few other things but nothing you haven’t seen before. Really needed are ideas for Tim. I lost the eBay bid for the Thomas the Train set, Ellen, so I’ll take you up on your offer to go buy something for Emma next weekend. I’ll ship a few books this week. Honestly, I’m just drawing a total blank about gifts this year. Reid, it will be good to have you down here. We’ll head to the coast for some surf & beer.

Ellen, that is such exciting news about a sister for Emma. It certainly makes your planning a lot easier in terms of wardrobe and such, although a kid brother wouldn’t have been bad. We could have called him Razzmatazz II in honor of your ‘bro.

Reid and his equally feisty niece Emma have always had a special bond.

Reid and his equally feisty niece Emma have always had a special bond.

Reid, you were just a terror on two legs. I mean, they might have named the Terrible Twos after you, you were that bad. I’ll try to make it up there in advance of the April date.

On my walk last weekend I found a kid’s drivers license and debit card on the sidewalk. How those cards ended so close together in such a public place is beyond me, but a whitepages.com search revealed his landline and somehow I reached his dad. They came by and got the cards that were left under the front welcome mat. They gave me a couple of movie tickets which was nice and a fair exchange. I might bring those with me to Minnesota for you guys to use.

The local community college, Central Piedmont Community College, is taking another flier on my teaching skills by letting me teach about writing. It’ll be just before and after I retire so I’m really looking forward to it. I kind of like the idea of helping in a classroom. I’ve got to figure out the Mac equivalent of Powerpoint so stuff can be shown on a screen. If you have solutions, let me know.

Hilton Head is booked for next Thanksgiving. I check in the Sunday prior, Nov. 22 Continue reading

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What I would have said…

There was no letter last week to Ellen and Reid. The kids were coming to Hilton Head Island for Thanksgiving; there was no need to write.

But as I watched them play, relax and laugh (and try to manage the high-high-high energy of Emma), I wondered what I would have written had my keyboard been in front of me as I witnessed a daughter and son be themselves. It might have – or should have – gone something like this:

Nov. 28, 2013

Ellen and Reid: I’m trying to think of the last time I wrote the words ‘I love you’ to the two of you, and nothing comes to mind.

But I do love you both very much. Tim and Emma and Liz, too. As I watched you riding bikes

Ellen, Tim, Emma and Reid cruise an all but desert beach.

Ellen, Tim, Emma and Reid cruise an all but deserted beach.

and walking and cautioning me against that extra piece of pie, I couldn’t help but think how swell you guys have turned out.

You make your mom and me proud of not only your professional lives, but how you’ve turned out as

Not that their parents are in the rear view mirror, but Ellen and Reid have rolled on with their lives. I like that.

Not that their parents are in the rear view mirror, but Ellen and Reid have rolled on with their lives. I like that.

people. That is probably the big thing; how you care for others, your sensitivity to those with less, your sense of fair play and your plain smarts. You’ve gotten by without us, but isn’t that the point?

You have given us a lot to be thankful for, not only today, but in your formative years gone by and most likely the years ahead, too. So let me say ‘thank you’ for who you are and who you each have become.

Allow me to look ahead to Christmas but not from the angle of gifts; you gave me everything this weekend in Hilton Head. There’s nothing else a proud dad needs or wants.



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